One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest takes place in a mental institution in the Pacific Northwest. The novel’s narrator is Chief BromdenThe catatonic half-Indian, Chief Broom, is a half-Indian catatonic man who all inmates and staff believe to be deaf and dumb. Bromden suffers from hallucinations, in which he feels the whole room filling up with a thick fog that is generated by The Combine. It controls everyone within its reach. The institution is ruled by Nurse Ratched (Big Nurse), a cold, precise woman with calculated gestures and a calm, mechanical manner. A new patient is introduced at the beginning of the story. Randall Patrick McMurphyHe is the first to arrive at the ward. He is a self-professed “gambling fool” who has just come from a work farm at Pendleton as part of his sentence for statutory rape. He is clearly lucid and completely sane, but he only came to the hospital to avoid the work detail. The ward also has other patients. Dale HardingThe president of patient’s council and Billy BibbitA thirty-year-old woman, who stutters and looks very young, is referred to as. McMurphy is immediately identified as a manipulator.

Nurse Ratched and Harding begin to discuss their difficulties during the first therapy session. McMurphy uses the opportunity to discuss his arrest for statutoryrape. He suggests that the girl was legal age and consenting. Dr. SpiveyMcMurphy’s main doctor questions McMurphy about whether he is trying to pretend insanity in order to be able not to do hard labor on the farm. McMurphy confronts Harding later about how Ratched is treated by inmates. He suggests it is a “pecking-party” in which the patients are to turn on each other. Harding acknowledges that Dr. Spivey and all the patients are afraid of the Big Nursing. He said that the rabbits in his care are unable to adjust to their new life and needed Big Nurse to teach them. McMurphy says he is confident that Nurse Ratched can be found within one week.

McMurphy wakes up early the next day to get a shower. McMurphy complains to Nurse Ratched to the black men who are his henchmen about the fact that patients can only brush their teeth at a certain time. McMurphy is standing in front Ratched in a towel and claims that his clothes are taken. He threatens McMurphy to drop his towel, even though he still has his shorts on. McMurphy shouts to Ratched for him to change into new clothes.

McMurphy complains then to Ratched over the constant, loud music playing on the ward. But she refuses. He suggests that the tub room be made into a game room. She refuses. The next group meeting is where Dr. Spivey casually mentions to McMurphy that he discussed opening the tub room up as a gaming room. He thinks it’s a great idea. The other inmates ratify the plan while Nurse Ratched’s hands begin to shake—her first significant sign of weakness.

McMurphy pushes McMurphy to change the schedule so patients can watch the World Series during daytime and work at nights. He attempts to motivate the patients to push for the schedule change, but he becomes angry at them when they act too “chicken-shit” and refuse to oppose Ratched. McMurphy is told by Billy Bibbit that he cannot do anything. But McMurphy claims that he will get out of the institution by raising the control panel from the tub room and throwing the item through the window.

Slowly, the patients start to become more vocal in their opposition to Ratched and to the boys. McMurphy again brings up the World Series at another group meeting after Billy talks about his stuttering and his proposal to a woman he didn’t like. Ratched finally allows the vote. Ratched allows a vote. Although twenty acute patients voted for his idea Ratched declared it a loss because none of the Chronics had the right to vote. McMurphy finally gets Chief Bromden to vote, but Ratched states that it is too late and the vote has ended. McMurphy protests by refusing to work and sitting down in front the TV while the World Series is being shown. McMurphy is joined by other patients in his mutiny.

McMurphy and Ratched are discussed by doctors at a staff meeting. They think he might be dangerous and not an average man. Ratched claims McMurphy isn’t an ordinary man and is subject all the fears, timidity, and fear of other men. McMurphy is in the hospital, and Ratched is certain that she will break him. They are also in control of his release date.

McMurphy’s aggressive behavior continues, but Ratched doesn’t respond. Other patients bring up long-standing complaints against Ratched, including the strict control they have over their schedules and the rationing cigarettes. McMurphy discovers that Nurse Ratched and his doctors will not release him until he is ready. Cheswick complains of the rationing and two boys are forced to take him to Disturbed Ward. After having received shock treatment, he returns to the group. Cheswick soon drowns after he sticks his fingers in the bottom of the pool.

McMurphy has given up his fight against Nurse Ratched and she assumes control over the ward. However, Nurse Ratched knows that she is in charge of whether McMurphy leaves. Harding introduces McMurphy and Vera to McMurphy on the ward’s visit to the library. Harding is rude to Vera, and she suggests that he’s a closeted homosexual. Then, he suddenly leaves. Harding requests McMurphy’s opinion. McMurphy responds that he won’t tell Harding how terrible Vera is, no matter what Harding might want to hear. McMurphy said that he is concerned about his own problems and shouldn’t have to worry about others.

McMurphy is getting chest Xrays done in another hospital for TB. He also learns more about the Shock Shop where patients can get electroshock therapy. Also, McMurphy discovers about lobotomies which are partial brain surgeries that can be used to control the most wild patients. Harding and the others confront McMurphy about why they did not tell him straightly that Nurse Ratched would decide whether or no one leaves. They claim that he was not involuntarily committed because, except for a few rare exceptions all the others were voluntarily admitted to the hospital. McMurphy can’t believe these men would choose the hospital to live, but Billy says that they are too weak for him to leave.

Nurse Ratched closes off the tub room where the patients were staying for several weeks. Ratched claims that the men didn’t apologize for their behavior during World Series protest. McMurphy retaliates by punching at the Nurses Station. Ratched doesn’t do much to respond because she knows that she can prolong this fight. McMurphy asks for an Accompanied Pass and attempts to recruit people to go with her to deep-sea fish. Ratched responds by posting newspaper clippings that warn about the dangers involved in boating to frighten many patients.

McMurphy discovers that Chief Bromden can’t hear or speak. McMurphy offers Bromden chewing gum, and he begins to talk about his family. McMurphy suggests Bromden grab the control panel in his tub room and throw it out the window. McMurphy agrees to take Bromden on the fishing trip.

Nurse Ratched attempts to stop the trip on the day it is due. Only one chaperone (a prostitute named) can do so. Candy StarrInstead of two chaperones, ) is here. Dr. Spivey is, however, the second chaperone. The attendant at the gas station asks them if they are asylum patients when they stop to get gas on their way to the docks. McMurphy brags about his criminally insane patients. Dr. Spivey says they are just a work crew. Two men make disparaging comments about Candy, the patients and others at the docks. McMurphy is unable to secure the boat as they do not have a waiver. However, he accepts the boat and does not need a captain. After a day fishing, McMurphy and his crew return to shore feeling rejuvenated.

Nurse Ratched then makes a move against McMurphy, posting financial statements from patients. They show that McMurphy is making a profit against other patients ever since he arrived. In a meeting, she suggests that McMurphy is manipulating them. McMurphy admits to being a sinner, but that he has been completely honest about his motives when the men confront him about it. He arranges for Candy, who will visit the institution to meet Billy Bibbit. Nurse Ratched orders a cautionary cleansing, and several black boys harass one patient. George Sorenson. McMurphy defends McMurphy and engages in a brawl with them. McMurphy’s black friends gang up on Chief Bromden and both are taken to the Disturbed Ward.

A nurse attends to McMurphy and Bromden’s wounds at the Disturbed Ward. She informs them that not all wards are run as autonomously as Nurse Ratched’s. She adds that she wishes she had the ability to keep her patients away from her hospital ward. Ratched allows McMurphy to offer Bromden an opportunity to apologize before she administers shock treatment. McMurphy rejects. Bromden tried to get McMurphy to agree to shock treatment several times per week. McMurphy claims the electroshock therapy is energizing. Bromden is greeted by Harding upon his return to the Ward. He tells the Chief of the Chief that he heard rumors that McMurphy was not responding to the EST. Ratched brings McMurphy back to the ward after she learns that his absence and resistance have led to his becoming an inspirational “legend.”

Harding and other patients plan to engineer McMurphy’s escape when Candy arrives Saturday night for her meeting at Billy. They bribe Mr. TurkleThe night watchman offers Candy sex and liquor. McMurphy falls asleep and delays leaving for the morning. He was found by the black boys on the next day.

Nurse Ratched arrives to collect the patients and take roll. She discovers that Billy Bibbit has gone missing. He’s found with Candy in the Seclusion Room. He is chastised by her for having sex so cheaply with Candy, and she tells him she will tell his mom. Billy starts to stumble at this point, but she takes her to the doctor’s to calm him down. He discovers that Billy has killed himself and cut his throat. Ratched blames McMurphy and he responds to her by trying strangle her. McMurphy pulls McMurphy away from her by the black boys before he can kill him, but he then rips off her uniform, showing her breasts.

Nurse Ratched takes time to recover and is unable to speak when she returns. Many patients are discharged from the hospital. McMurphy, now in coma after undergoing a forced lobotomy, returns to the hospital ward several weeks later. McMurphy is smothered with a pillow by Chief Bromden to relieve his suffering. He then throws the control panel from the tub room through a window and runs away, fulfilling McMurphy’s escape plan.

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